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Saving people is an unacceptable weakness for the government
Written by   
, 16 2012

One more time about 'Nord-Ost'

Image'Novaya Gazeta' has published a lot of serious material concerning 'Nord-Ost'. Wedeem it important to make a note of several more aspects of thistopic.

1. Oneof the lessons of 'Nord-Ost' is the importance of negotiations in order to gain the release of hostages.

In October 2002, there were no specialists in negotiating with terrorists among the Russian security services. Civilians who were well known in our country conducted talks that took place in the booby-trapped theatrical center on Dubrovka. Thisgave some hope for a successful resolution of the situation we all remembered how in June 1995, after the capture of a hospital in Budennovsk, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin entered into telephonic negotiations with Shamil Basayev and actually saved almost two thousand people.

Grigory Yavlinsky, head of 'Yabloko' faction in the State Duma, saw before him in the Dubrovka theater a group of heavily armed, well-equipped, confident, strong-willed young people who had learned well how to play at war, but were unable to articulate their demands, except for the impossible stop the war in Chechnya immediately.

Here Yavlinsky’s talent came in handy. After tough negotiations on the night of October 25, he brought to the Kremlin specific, realistic demands that had been formulated by terrorists: an artillery ceasefire beginning October 25, an end to the use of heavy armor and artillery in Chechnya, an end to search and destroy missions in Chechnya beginning October 25, and direct telephone talks between Vladimir Putin and Aslan Maskhadov, during which they must identify the next steps to address the situation in Chechnya (Tatiana Karpova, the mother of a dead hostage, mentioned this during an interview on radio 'Svoboda' with reference to the criminal case).

As a show of their willingness to negotiate on the conditions put forward, the terrorists promised Yavlinsky that they would release some of the children. OnOctober 25they handed over eight children, ages from 6to 12, to representatives of the RedCross.

Putin made a different decision an assault that confirmed that human life in this country is worth no more than it was during the worst days of the Sovietera.

It is possible that the authorities used the negotiations, which took place October 2425, as a smokescreen to hide preparation for an assault, and only needed information from the negotiators on the terrorists' frame of mind, weapons, their positions, and the location of booby traps within the theater building. Apparently the saving of people, that which we credited Chernomyrdin, was for the Kremlin an unacceptable weakness for the government. Totheir way of thinking, people were rescued, but the terrorists got away (this is confirmed by the destruction of the Beslan school and child hostages in order to destroy the terrorists on September 3rd, 2004).

In this case, however, the efforts of Yavlinsky and other negotiators were not fruitless they did rescue some of the hostages.

2. Theincompetence of those who planned the hostage rescue operation is obvious. Moscow physicians were not prepared for a rescue mission. Theyhad no antidotes. Theydid not know what was in the toxic substance used, or how to reverse comas that it had induced in the hostages. Apparently the government had a good idea of the scale of the operation in general, as well as the extent of police corruption in particular, and this is why they were so afraid of information getting out about preparations for the assault.

3. Onliterally the next day after the tragedy, the 'Yabloko' faction in the State Duma proposed the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the circumstances of the terrorist act in Moscow, and assess the actions of the government and responsible officials in the rescue and medical assistance rendered to the hostages. Thepro-Putin majority, however, refused to allowit.

In an interview with 'Novaya Gazeta' published October 22nd (2012), Boris Nemtsov led readers astray: Immediately after the attack, our SPS faction raised the issue in the State Duma on a parliamentary inquiry into the tragedy. Wedid not even get support from 'Yabloko'. Thisstruck me at the time. Iknew there was a huge pressure coming from the Kremlin to make sure that there were no initiatives for an investigation in the parliament.

Nemtsov forgot that 'Yabloko' put forward a similar initiative even earlier than the SPS. TheSPS proposal reduced the scope of the parliamentary commission's work to only the Moscow police and health department, and this is what 'Yabloko' disagreed with. Fromhis rostrum in the Duma, Sergei Ivanenko, one of the leaders of the 'Yabloko' faction on this project, explained: Our colleagues believe that the rescue operation was carried out brilliantly, whereas we believe that we are forming a commission to answer the question as to how the operation was carried out. Thisis a fundamental difference that did not allow us to set up a common project.

On October 29th, 2002, in order to increase the effectiveness of parliamentary control, the 'Yabloko' faction stated that it would initiate a second reading of amendments to the Constitution to allow a law creating a permanent parliamentary investigative body (the first reading of the amendment was adopted in 1999.) The 'Yabloko' initiative was not supported by the Duma, and in December 2005a federal law on parliamentary investigation was adopted in a highly abbreviated form. According to the present law, neither the death of submariners in the 'Kursk' tragedy, nor 'Nord-Ost' and Beslan, can be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.

We will end here with words that Grigory Yavlinsky said at a meeting of the 'Yabloko' party leadership in October 28, 2002: As a whole, what happened on October 2326was our common defeat, our common tragedy. Nota single Russian politician, nor even a single Russian citizen, can evade responsibility for what happened.

In 'Novaya Gazeta'

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